The Christmas tree is decorated. Candles are lit. The house is increasingly scented with the warm spices of the holiday season.
And while all is not well in the world, all is calm here on Lawn Place.
I began the year on sabbatical, and now end the year in a frantic rush to finish a major accreditation report at the office. The private studio has exploded in a lovely and fulfilling way. My circus composing is going well. And I am loving working with the Variety kids. Fulfilling is indeed the watchword.
As I near 60 years old, I’ve made some decisions about what the next few years are going to entail. More on this as it unfolds and becomes real. The great news here is that I’m figuring out how my contributions to my profession and community are maturing, strengthening, and broadening, and that makes me very happy indeed.
So changes are coming, and are present as well. Peter Sargent retired in July after being the only fine arts dean Webster has ever had, and I now have a new boss. Sadly, Peter died just a few weeks ago. His death has left me in a well of grief for a father-figure and mentor I loved deeply.
One of the realizations this year: my life is enriched by a web of acquaintances of various degrees of closeness, without whom life would be infinitely less interesting and connected. The New York Times earlier this year posted an article about how people with a robust group of acquaintances are generally happier. Circus Harmony and Variety has helped me fill some of these gaps. The brief conversations with parents of my private students add to connection as well. And I’m grateful!
Travel this year included not one but two trips to Morocco. I enjoyed the first trip so much I grabbed my friend Kevin and went back again a few months later. I’ve had some Chicago time, two trips to Washington, D.C., several NYC trips, and a bit of time in Lee’s Summit.
We are all getting a bit older. My sisters and I are all in our 50s. Karen is a grandmother twice-over now. Beth has only one of her three children still in public schools. JoAnne, our father’s widow, is now in a care center, and her home (the one she shared with Pop until his death) is now on the sales block. Change is a constant.
I’ve taken numerous cooking classes this year. Sourdough bread has been a favorite, with a starter I’ve somehow kept alive. A cooking class in Tangier was a delight too.
The Variety Chorus finished our Spring season with a performance with Sting in April! And my circus music was hit in January.
I’ve seen a TON of shows this year!
And this summer I said ‘see you later’ to three much-loved students:
Students fill my life with joy!
with Ben Love after his final show at Webster.
with Jacob Flekier after his last show at Webster.
I had two incredible meals this year, one in Tangier, the other at a Cuban place in DC:
And finally, some of the circus kids have become my adopted family here in Saint Louis. The Bailey brothers helped me celebrate my birthday this year, and their family has become a fixed point for me.
They really were happy about Ted Drewes.
This holiday season is a time of darkness and expectation, light and hope. May the light be victorious, and may we all enjoy blessings during this season.
Webster University closed early on Monday, at 11 a.m., for a snow day. Road conditions were ugly.
I didn’t leave campus until 3 p.m., since I went ahead and taught a lesson, met with the Dean, and took care of office work.
But I’m mindful of snow days past.
One year, when I was still living upstairs at the house on Wingate in Lee’s Summit (I moved downstairs to the basement in 9th grade) the ice was so bad that school was out for three days, and we were without power for at least overnight. That much I can remember. My sisters had bunk beds; I had a 3/4 bed. And we all bunked into my bed together to keep each other warm under plenty of blanketing.
Funny that I don’t have much recollection of snow days as a kid. We would have taken the sled outdoors and played in the snow, of course. At some point there were snowmen, and one year I remember we made a snow fort of sorts.
Several years back, we had such a snow/ice/chill in Saint Louis that school was cancelled for two days. I knew about the call-off early enough that I decided to watch the entire Lord of the Rings movie trilogy on three consecutive nights, and I did.
But the worst snow-days in memory occurred in January 2005. A perfect storm of ice hit a twenty-mile-wide swath of Indiana. We had been warned to expect that power would go out. And it did. For four days. I weathered the first night in my steadily-chilling condo. Even the next morning the hot water heater was still hot enough to take a quick shower. But the temperatures stayed cold for the whole time, and I found myself a room at the campus hotel at Ball State.
And as I write, I’m really puzzled that I don’t remember snow days from growing up. But how could I remember this snow from 1965? I was three and a half years old—